India: The Elephant's Blessing


India: The Elephant's Blessing follows the author's 2,500km journey through Southern India. The work has elements of the travelog but is infused with perspicacious insights into the people and culture of India. The point of departure for these insights is often the curious mixture of India's ancient culture and its current economic development, and the relative ease with which people blend tradition and the trappings of contemporaneity. As with her previous two books, a central focus for the author is wildlife and heritage preservation, or the lack thereof. India's wildlife is one of its most precious resources, but it has suffered in the past and present from poaching and a lack of competent conservation methods. The work is narrated intimately, in the sense that the author's personality is everpresent, imbuing the work with a charm rare in travel literature. The reader views India at every level, from the poverty-stricken to the grasping rich, from the quiet beauty of its wildife parks to the humbling grace of its ancient temples. India: The Elephant's Blessing is a social commentary by someone with an honest and clear-sighted love of India which gives one the flavour of India while addressing the relevent concerns for its future. This is a book that captures all the contradictions of India and its long history, the embracing of the modern in the landscape of the past. The importance of issues of national heritage are brought to the fore, as are the challenges for the politicians privileged to lead India into the 21st Century. The geographical regions of Southern India are described objectively and atmospherically, and although the work is far more than a travel guide, it would serve as such for the the intelligent and informed traveller, who seeks to learn about the culture as opposed to simply tour it. This is a timely and relevant book with crucial insights to offer. The charm and readability make the physical journey of the author and the mental journey of the reader a rewarding and enthralling experience.

18 Sep 2006
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